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The Code of Trust: An American Counterintelligence Expert’s Five Rules to Lead and Succeed

Robin Dreeke, with Cameron Stauth. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-09346-2

Complex problems can have simple answers, as FBI agent Dreeke (It’s Not All About Me) shows in this guide to building trust. He exhorts would-be leaders to follow the five principles of his “code of trust”—suspend your ego, be nonjudgmental, honor reason, validate others, and be generous—and the “four steps to inspiring trust,” which are an action plan that implements the code. The four steps—align your goals, apply the power of context, craft your encounters, and connect—are explained in detail. As an example of aligning goals, Dreeke uses the story of another agent who managed to recruit a difficult source by listening carefully to what the source wanted. “Applying the power of context” means using psychologist William Marston’s “science of finding human similarities” to mesh together different people’s communication styles. “Crafting the encounter” involves preparing opening remarks, asking for assistance, making an offering, and sticking to the subject—the other person. The fourth and arguably most important step is making an emotional connection. Smart, empowering, and easy to follow, Dreeke’s manual should become a classic business—and personal—primer on the art of building trust. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories

Ilan Pappe. Oneworld, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-1-85168-587-5

Israeli expat historian Pappe (The Idea of Israel), director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter, boldly and persuasively argues for understanding the occupied territories as the world’s “largest ever mega-prison.” He begins by describing Israeli preparations made several years before 1967’s Six-Day War to control large portions of Palestine without formally annexing them and thereby granting civil rights to the Palestinians living there. Instead, with the imposition of Israeli rule, “the Palestinians living there were incarcerated for crimes they never committed and for offences that were never committed, confessed, or defined.” Pappe shows that the Israelis offered an “open-air prison” when the Palestinians were compliant and a “maximum security prison” when they offered any resistance. Both left them shorn of basic human rights but the latter also featured harsh punishments up to and including military attacks on civilians. Pappe cites numerous violations of international law as well as generally duplicitous behavior by Israeli leaders toward other nations and international bodies, particularly during the Oslo Accord negotiations. Moreover, according to a 2016 U.N. report, Israel’s actions toward the Gaza Strip will render life there “unsustainable” by 2020. Pappe’s conclusions won’t be welcome in all quarters but this detailed history is rigorously supported by primary sources. Maps. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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After Andy: Adventures in Warhol Land

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni. Blue Rider, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-18353-9

Born into an aristocratic British family in 1963, fashion journalist Fraser-Cavassoni (Sam Spiegel) chronicles her education in rebellion as a member of a star-studded social set during the last decades of the 20th century. A maven of the rich and famous, the younger Fraser-Cavassoni dips into wild parties brimming with cleavage and cocaine as easily as she socializes with willowy rock musicians (at age 17 she had an affair with Mick Jagger). Recording her many flirtations, Fraser-Cavassoni skips between London, Hollywood, New York, and Paris, describing a string of gal Friday experiences with powerful movie and fashion agents that paved her way to working in Warhol Studios. It is a breezy account in which chapter topics dissolve into lengthy detours. Less than a third of the book concentrates on Warhol and entourage, not enough to warrant his name in the subtitle. However, her cocktail, catwalk, and nightclub sketches provide an amusing stories of the consummate “English Muffin” (a term for well-born British women working for Warhol) with physical attributes “spilling out in all the right places.” This is a perfect beach read. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory

Elizabeth Rosner. Counterpoint, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-61902-954-5

Novelist Rosner (Electric City) shines an unblinking light on the most horrific of 20th-century crimes and asks, what is the intergenerational legacy of trauma? How do we respect the survivors and honor the dead? How do we deal with the “limits of language” and the “ephemeral nature... of memory?” She considers art, anniversaries, memorials, and psychotherapy, but the most powerful technique she finds for dealing with trauma is simply telling the story behind it, “the paradoxical quest for preserving the intangible residue of loss.” In several of the collagelike chapters Rosner rummages through the words and works of others, attempting to find connection and meaning, but the emotional center of the book is her parents’ experience of the Holocaust and her “personal inheritance” of that memory. The book’s larger shape can be hard to see given its fragmented structure, but the themes of memory, language, and the bodily imprint of trauma are powerful, as are Rosner’s accounts of revisiting Buchenwald with her father. Despite the difficulties of capturing the unspeakable, Rosner’s conclusions—that powerful suffering must be communicated before healing can occur and that the most profound of human atrocities must be acknowledged so that their like does not happen again—open the door to understanding and, optimistically, show a path to peace. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean

Amy Dresner. Hachette, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-0-316-43095-1

Dresner, a former stand-up comic and current contributing editor for The Fix, writes about her recovery from drug and alcohol abuse with honesty and irreverent humor. Dresner hit rock bottom when she pulled a knife on her husband while high on OxyContin in 2011. She was charged with domestic violence, sentenced to community service, and was admitted into a chic Hollywood Hills rehab. Dresner’s narration of her messy recovery (she eventually got kicked out of the posh rehab, went on Medicaid, and developed an addiction to Tinder) is interwoven with insights she gains as a recovering addict: “With drugs, you can circumvent all the productive work and fulfilling relationships that you’d normally need in order to have a feeling of wholeness in your life.” While cleaning syringes and human waste off Hollywood Boulevard as part of her community service, Dresner decided to seriously rethink her life. She finds humor in the darkest moments of her addiction and recovery: “Running a women’s sober living [home] is not easy. It’s like herding cats... if the cats were on heroin.” Readers meet Dresner at her worst, but she nevertheless charms throughout her healing. Agent: Peter Steinberg, Foundry Literary + Media. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process

Edited by Joe Fassler. Penguin, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-14-313084-0

Asking writers to write about writing is a fraught proposition (is there anything new left to say?), but editor Fassler (Night Music) includes many gems among this anthology’s 46 entries. Using the approach that he developed for the Atlantic’s online series “By Heart,” where some of these pieces were first published, Fassler asks each writer to find a life-changing passage of literature and make a case for why it matters. The collection’s best essays soar; they include Mary Gaitskill on a scene from Anna Karenina, Tom Perrotta on Our Town’s sense of ordinariness, and Ayana Mathis on James Baldwin and race. Stephen King, as always, is masterful on writing’s nuts and bolts, in this case writing about a novel’s opening sentence. The strongest essays focus on close readings of texts. Weaker essays become about the author and meander into clichés, such as that writing takes courage or that writers must trust themselves. The book would have benefited from brief author bios: not every writer is a household name. Nevertheless, the essays’ variety and the heart and intelligence evident in many of them add up to a valuable book, one that leads readers back to treasured classics and forward to the works of these contemporary authors. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Lessons for Non-profit and Start-up Leaders: Tales from a Reluctant CEO

Maxine Harris and Michael B. O’Leary. Rowman & Littlefield, $34 (188p) ISBN 978-1-4422-7653-6

Harris, cofounder of D.C.-based nonprofit Community Connections, and O’Leary, a professor of leadership at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, team up to examine the challenges of establishing a new organization in this informative and thorough exploration. The authors take an unusual approach to their topic by starting each chapter with a fairy tale “from our collective imagination” that colorfully illustrates a specific business hurdle, such as learning how to hire the right people, overcoming obstacles, or winning over stakeholders. These stories receive titles such as “A Fable to Reach the Sky,” “The Magic Ring,” and “Crossing the Woods.” Each fairy tale is followed by a case study that shows how Community Connections dealt with the issue at hand. By using Community Connections as the sole source for their case studies, the authors impart to readers a solid understanding of how one organization met its challenges. While many business books provide examples from multiple companies in the name of breadth, seldom do readers have the opportunity to explore a sole organization in such depth. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors, Diplomats, Louis XVI, and the Success of a Revolution

Tom Shachtman. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-08087-5

Author and filmmaker Shachtman (Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries) highlights France’s role in securing American independence in this otherwise familiar story of the Revolutionary War. Without French recognition and support, he argues, colonists would never have triumphed in the crucial battles, such as Yorktown, that paved the way to American democracy. Surveying Franco-American relations from the 1770s until independence, Shachtman illuminates the impact of French contributions to American military leadership, resources, and engineering knowledge, while also paying close attention to the effects of French-led international negotiations with Britain and Spain. Throughout he emphasizes the roles played by King Louis XVI, the Marquis de Lafayette, and others who worked closely with more-well-known American figures such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. At times, the complex cast of characters makes the account difficult to follow and there is little sense of an overall narrative. Shachtman is at his best when describing specific events, such as battles, but is less successful at attempts to sketch broader transatlantic political developments. Although perhaps less useful to scholars looking for fine-grain detail, this account will likely be of interest to American-history enthusiasts and Francophiles alike. Agent: Mel Berger, WME. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist

Marcus Rediker. Beacon, $26.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-8070-3592-4

Rediker (Outlaws of the Atlantic), professor of Atlantic history at the University of Pittsburgh, successfully rescues Lay from obscurity, arguing that the adventurous, single-minded Quaker was one of the abolition movement’s forebears. Living in a pre–Revolutionary War era during which Quakers owned slaves, England-born Lay used his impressive oratorical command of Scripture and a penchant for big gestures to shock and berate Christians of multiple denominations into opposing slavery. Quaker records express their leaders’ befuddlement regarding their “wayward” member; Lay’s own controversial and unconventional book—which Benjamin Franklin quietly published—shows Lay’s undiminished devotion to his cause. Rediker adroitly describes nuances of the Quaker faith’s evolution, with Lay’s anti-materialist beliefs and refusal to adhere to church hierarchy evocative of the sect’s early years. While the emphasis is on abolition and Lay’s difficulties with fellow Quakers, Rediker also describes how Lay’s marriage to a fellow minister, Sarah, strengthened his resolve. Lay’s significant experience as a sailor and traveler added greater insight into the horrific conditions of slaves in Barbados and the Colonies, which he described in his frequent verbal barrages. Though the Quaker Comet was known for his impatience and stridency, his revolutionary beliefs regarding abolition, vegetarianism, gender equality, and simplicity prove that Lay’s farsightedness and extensive advocacy deserve to be remembered. Illus. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Catching Breath: The Making and Unmaking of Tuberculosis

Kathryn Lougheed. Sigma, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4729-3033-0

British medical researcher Lougheed creditably covers the long, painful history of tuberculosis, the world’s leading infectious killer, and the impressive recent advances in combatting it. The slow-growing and tough TB bacterium has infected humans since prehistory, but our immune system largely kept it under control up until the industrial revolution, when humans packed into cities and their health and immune systems declined. Improvements in public health after 1900 reduced infections, and it was widely believed that anti-TB antibiotics—which were developed after just after WWII—would eliminate the threat. But resistance appeared; widespread poverty in the developing world, combined with other diseases attacking the immune system such as HIV, has produced a worldwide epidemiological crisis. Lougheed delivers an expert account of this history, although her efforts to enliven a dismal subject with cheerful anecdotes and jokes do not always succeed. She is at her best when describing the research done in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Dazzling technical advances, new drugs, the development of genomics, insights into the bacterium’s metabolism, and massive but halting political efforts may eventually turn the tide, but as Lougheed writes, TB is “very much a disease of the present and, sadly, the future.” (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/23/2017 | Details & Permalink

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